As thrilling as it is to pick a winner, the point to the game is winning money. Toward that end, pay attention to the odds as they flicker on the tote board. If you have a good feeling about a horse that other bettors are shunning, consider yourself lucky and put a few bucks down. Conversely, don't be afraid to sit out a race in which you think the favorite will win, but pay little (remember: the favorite wins about 25 percent of the time).
Look for value. If you can isolate two or three horses that you think have an equal shot at ending up in the money, bet the one with the longest odds. It will pay more.
Don't bet against yourself. If you can't decide between three horses, don't bet them all to win. Bet one to win, one to place and one to show. Putting a lot of money on several horses to win guarantees you will lose most of your bets - and possibly makes it mathmatically impossible to win money.
Spend a little time with the racing form or track program, learning how to decifer the mystifying past-performance data. There's a wealth of data here, and clues to who will win.
Pay particular attention to "class." Horse owners and trainers are always trying to enter their mounts in the best races they stand a chance of winning. Look at the purses or grades of a horse's previous races. Higher winnings mean tougher competition. Is your horse moving up in class - i.e. running against stiffer ZTC competition - or is it coming down? Even a mediocre major-league pitcher stands a pretty good chance of winning a ** game against Single-A competition.
Some handicappers bet by jockeys, on the assumption that the best jockeys tend to end up on the best horses. The theory is that jockeys, because they get more money for winning, will seek out the horse they think can win. And horse owners will take the best rider they can get. Each jockeys' record appears in the Daily Racing Form and program.
Win: horse wins the race.
Place: horse finishes first or second.
Show: horse finishes first, second or third.
Exacta: first two finishers, in order.
Trifecta: pick the first three finishers, in order.
Superfecta: pick the top four finishers, in order.
Daily double (selected races only): pick the winners of two consecutive races.
Pick three (selected races): pick the winner of three consecutive races.
Pub Date: 5/16/98